Most multi-vehicle accidents involving motorcycles happen when drivers fail to see motorcyclists and collide with them. Driving at night just makes it even more likely for drivers to fail to spot a motorcyclist approaching or in an adjoining lane. In fact, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 27% of all fatal motorcycle accidents occur between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m.

Unfortunately, while the safest way to ride a motorcycle is during daylight hours when the weather is clear, this isn’t always possible.

If you find yourself needing to get somewhere after dark and your motorcycle is your only way to do so, there are a few key safety tips you will need to keep in mind to protect yourself from injury in a collision or crash.

Add Reflective Tape to Your Gear and Motorcycle

While high-viz or brightly colored motorcycle gear may help make you easier to spot in the daytime, it will NOT work in the dark. However, while reflective gear won’t make much difference in the daytime, it WILL at night and in low light conditions like dusk and dawn.

Thankfully, you don’t need to buy separate reflective gear just for nighttime riding. Reflective tape, decals, and stickers are inexpensive additions that you can stick onto your bike and gear to make yourself more visible to drivers. However, one piece of gear you should swap out when riding at night is a tinted visor, if you use one during the day.

Some of the best places to add reflective tape to make yourself more visible include:

  • Edges of windscreen
  • Wheel rims
  • Saddlebags
  • Helmet
  • Shoulder blades of jacket

Reflective tape placed where it will be visible from behind should reflect red, to match the color of a car’s brake lights, while tape placed where it will be visible from the side or front should be white or yellow.

Check Your Lights

Make sure your headlights, brake lights, and signals are fully functioning to make yourself and your movements more visible, and to improve your range of sight.

If your headlights are cloudy, the lens may need to be cleaned or the bulbs replaced. You may even want to consider upgrading your stock headlights to brighter LED headlights to improve your range of vision when driving at night.

Obstacles in the road, such as potholes, debris, and fallen tree limbs will be less visible at night. That’s why it’s important to increase your chances of spotting them before you get to them. Only ride within your headlights. This means that if your stopping distance is greater than the length you can see ahead of you, you need to slow down.

Another smart safety option for night riding is adding brake light flashers or headlight modulators to your bike. Brake light flashers cause your brake lights to flash multiple times when the brake is applied, while a headlight modulator will cause your low beams to pulse. Flashing lights draw the eye more automatically than steady lights do, so this could help make you more visible to other drivers.

Know Where to Look

You’ll be using your headlights, but so will other drivers, and the bright headlights of cars may impede your vision or temporarily blind you, which may also lead to a crash.

You may have heard the advice to “look where you want to go” when riding a motorcycle. If you find yourself blinded by approaching headlights, do NOT look down and away, as this can affect your ability to control your bike or steer straight. Instead, keep your eyes on the far-right line of the road (if you are in the right lane), or the painted lane markers ahead of you, rather than the vehicles around you, which will keep you headed in the right direction and in your lane.

Pay Extra Attention to Other Vehicles

It’s always vital to ride defensively when on a motorcycle, but even more so at night. There will likely be far less traffic at night than during the daytime, but any vehicles you are sharing the road with may be far more dangerous than they would be during the daytime.

At night, you are more likely to encounter drunk drivers, fatigued drivers, and drivers who are speeding. You are 3x more likely to be killed in a crash at night than during the day, and 4x more likely to be killed in a drunk driving accident. Furthermore, studies show that drowsy driving is just as or even more dangerous than drunk driving.

You will need to ride more slowly and carefully than you may usually. Additionally, other vehicles may not be the only things on the road you may have to watch out for. You may also be more likely to encounter animals such as deer crossing the road at night.

Injured in a Motorcycle Crash? Call Joye Law Firm.

Our motorcycle injury attorneys know how often motorcycle riders are the ones to suffer when other drivers are negligent behind the wheel, including speeding or driving drunk. And it only gets worse when the sun goes down and visibility worsens for all motorists.

That’s why we want to help South Carolina motorcyclists get the help they need to cover their medical bills and replace lost wages after crashes that weren’t their fault. Call our firm today for a free, no obligation consultation, and you’ll pay nothing unless we win your case.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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